How do you maintain mental health, resilience, and productivity when you have someone spitting in your face most days?
What if that person is your kid? And he’s only 3, so his behaviour is YOUR fault!
Welcome to my world circa 2018.
I’d held the title of “Mummy” for about 18 months by then – since meeting my children for the first time at their foster carer’s home.
Parenthood via adoption comes with unique challenges but I hadn’t anticipated chronic mental health struggles as part of it. I had no idea things would be so bad that my sense of identity would crumble and I’d stop feeling like a whole person.
My son’s early trauma led him to reject me outright. Despite being physically dependant on me, he didn’t want to be near me. It was devastating – and made worse by that voice in my head saying, “Kids have an instinct for this sort of thing. If he hates you, there’s a reason.”
It was the hardest time of my life.
I wanted nothing more than to build the connection with him but my instincts to preserve my sense of self and avoid rejection drove me in the opposite direction. On top of that, I still had a business to run so my days were jammed from 5am to 8pm with barely a minute’s rest.
I was exhausted.
I remember running a lot back then, with my son in his pushchair. I’d take my daughter to school and then, partly to kill time without having to pretend we wanted to be near each other, I would run. The speed made him giggle and I had a brief moment of feeling like a decent person. Running also offered respite from the constant feeling of electricity and tension in my body – it gave my muscles something to do and helped me feel normal.
As the months passed, every part of who I felt I was prior to having kids eroded and I accepted the irrefutable truth of my unworthiness. I mean, who can’t connect with a baby FFS?!
Lucky for me, a small part of the optimistic, resilient, ‘anything is possible’ person I’d been prior to this experience was still in there and so I set about figuring out how to reconnect with her in this new world where I was being pushed beyond my limits.
At first I thought I needed better parenting strategies – and to some extent they helped – but the biggest contribution I made to improving my life and connecting with my children came from 3 things:
1. Claiming my power in the presence of my inner critic
2. Reprogramming my mind and heart for more resourceful thoughts and feelings
3. Cutting off the fuel source of my inner critic by addressing historical wounds that left me feeling not good enough.
Not even my husband knew the depths of the darkness I felt because I didn’t have the words to express it but I have the words now and I hope my story helps you if you’re feeling the same.
That experience changed my life and led me down a new career path as I trained to help other women do the 3 things I now know are necessary for life to feel great despite the hardships.
If you need help, please reach out. Even if you don’t quite have the words yet, know that I understand and I can help in a way that even the most important people in your life may not be able to.